Increased snowfall in Antarctica linked to Australian drought

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Sydney, Feb 8 (ANI): Reports indicate that scientists have discovered a link between the ongoing drought in the south western corner of Australia and increased snowfall in parts of Antarctica.

Dr Tas van Ommen of the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) said that ice core samples taken from Law Dome in East Antarctica show an unusual and consistent increase in snowfall since the late 1960s.

"After examining 750 years worth of samples, the increase is well above the normal sort of variability one expects," he said.

According to a report in ABC News, van Ommen and AAD colleague Dr Vin Morgan found the cause was a pattern of atmospheric circulation that brings warm, moist air from the Tasman Sea near New Zealand to East Antarctica.

"Further research found this same pattern was part of a larger flow recirculating dry, cool air from the Antarctic to south western Australia," said van Ommen.

A check of Western Australian climate records showed a very strong correlation.

"The more it snowed at Law Dome, the more intense the drought became in the south west of Western Australia," said van Ommen.

"The cause appears to be what's called the 'wave three pattern' in the high latitude atmosphere which is associated with the three southern hemisphere ocean basins, the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian," he added.

"But as to why the wave three pattern has strengthened over the last 30 years, that's still a mystery," said van Ommen.

"Not only has the paper established a nice link between the snowfall and drought, but the climate models show increases in greenhouse gases and an ozone reduction can account for about half the rainfall decline in Western Australia's southwest," said climatologist Tim Cowan of the CSIRO.

"We have seen a real step change in rainfall levels in Western Australia's south west, which is very dramatic and concerning," he said.

According to Cowan, "Based on climate models projections for future, there's a high probability that south west Western Australia will get even dryer." (ANI)

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